The Power of Posture
Good-bye, feet!’ (for when she looked down at her feet, they
seemed to be almost out of sight, they were getting so far off).”
How are you holding your body? When was the last time you thought about it? Shift your awarness from your immediate task to the way your body is positioned. Using all of your focus, feelings, muscles, bones, and joints, find a way to hold your body with ease. Take up as much space as you can. Feel as tall as you can be. Focus on the alignment of our ankles, knees, hips, spine, shoulders, neck, and head. How does that feel? When I focus on improving and maintaining my posture, I tend to feel more happy, calm, and relaxed. Practicing yoga and tango at Sangha Space has taught me to be more conscious of my posture. Even when I’m out of the studio at work, home, or out running errands, I find myself more aware of maintaining good, comfortable posture because of the physical, emotional, and social benefits that come with it.
When I focus on the way I’m holding my body, I tend to improve my alignment and recruit more muscle groups. This helps me find a sense of ease and comfort with the way I am standing, sitting, or laying. The physical benefits of maintaining proper posture improve overall health and longevity. According to the American Chiropractic Association, good body positioning “helps us keep bones and joints in correct alignment so that our muscles are used correctly, decreasing the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in degenerative arthritis and joint pain” (acatoday.org, 2015). Good posture also promotes efficient use of muscles, prevents fatigue, and decreases the likelihood of injury and muscular pain. Strengthening one’s core is also an effective way to improve body posture. Finding ways to mindfully practice good posture will help make it a beneficial habit.
The mind-body connection helps people understand the reciprocal relationship between one’s emotional state and physical state. An example of this is the idea that when you identify feeling the emotion of saddness, your body produces tears and your posture may shrink into a more huddled form. The shoulders pulled down and in front of the body, with a curved, slouching spine, and the head facing downward. When we focus on maintaining good, strong posture, it can help us to feel more comfortable and relaxed. Changing the way one holds their body can affect the way they are feeling. Sometimes if you fake a smile or a laugh, it actually makes you feel a little happier. The concept of a power stance (i.e. feet shoulder width apart, hands on hips, back straight, head centered and neck floating upwards, a type of “superhero” position) and the way it can enhance one’s confidence, sense of empowerment, and positive outlook on a situation is another example of the influence good body posture can have on one’s emotional state.
Nonverbal signals, like posture and facial expressions, are communicated to other people through “body language” in a sense. Taking up one’s own physical space to the fullest extent possible sends a message of confidence. Owning your personal space starts with good posture. Allowing your body to fully occupy the space within it and around it is an act of self-care and self-respect that builds self-esteem. These factors lead to positive social outcomes. Without shrinking yourself or overcrowding someone else, you can learn to maintain a balanced axis built on equity and respect. Using your body language to communicate openness or closedness, confidence or doubt, and liking or disliking, you can accomplish your goals in social situations.
The physical, emotional, and social benefits of practicing and maintaining good body posture are numerous. When I leave yoga or tango, I feel like Alice in the title image. My neck is stretched upwards, I feel taller, and my feet seem further away. It took some time for me to learn that the way you move effects your overall percepective. Being aware of your posture and how you hold your body can transform the way you think and feel. You can improve your interactions with others by seeing the connection between nonverbal messages and communicative goals. Try and make an effort to practice strong, solid posture. With proper alignment and attention to your musculature, you can harness the physical, emotional, and social benefits of good body positioning.